The former Government Chief Executive failed to carry out the task of slashing the cost and size of Government he was recruited to do, according to the Minister who recruited him.
Former Chief Minister and current External Relations Minister Senator Ian Gorst said that he regretted hiring Charlie Parker in late 2017, months ahead of the 2018 election.
By March 2018, Mr Parker had outlined a vision for ‘OneGov’ – a plan to tear up the structure of government in a bid to slim down management, save money and help departments work better together.
Within the same month, States Members passed a new law - known as P1 - paving the way for those major structural changes, and giving Mr Parker more power over civil servants.
However, in 2020, he agreed to step down in the wake of his second job scandal - a departure, prior to the completion of the 'OneGov' regime, which cost taxpayers £500,000.
Reflecting on the changes ushered in by Mr Parker, Senator Gorst told Express's Politics Disassembled Podcast: “I don’t think what I brought him in to do happened and I think that’s a great disappointment."
He later added: "That programme at the start we said was going to save money and reduce the size of government – we sit here today and we’re spending £200m more than what we were per annum and we’ve got hundreds more staff in Government. That’s not what my vision is, that’s not what my vision was."
However, Senator Gorst said he was "prepared to take my share of the blame".
"I recruited somebody on the premise, I suppose, that I would then be Chief Minister, and work with them to deliver my vision, and I wasn’t, so I don’t step away from making the recruitment," he explained.<
Rather than sharing his vision, he said that the Government that followed was "more willing to spend more and more willing to grow the number of people employed in government".
"I regret that I made that recruitment and made that recruitment at that time and put Charlie through what he then went through – I wouldn’t wish that on anyone," he later said.
Politicians and local critics have since questioned whether P1 reduced Ministers' ability to hold their officers to account, and get them to follow instructions.
However, Senator Gorst suggested he disagreed with this analysis.
Senator Gorst later added: "When I brought forward P1, it never occurred to me that you’d potentially have politicians or Ministers who weren’t able to articulate a vision and tell the civil service what they wanted doing and then make it happen because that’s always been my experience in every Council of Ministers I’ve served in," he said.
"Ministers were strong, Ministers told officials what they wanted to happen and they came forward with programmes to deliver that."
He said that, while P1 gave Mr Parker more power, he didn't use it.
"He basically used his power of personality... Some of that is what’s annoyed people about him. Quite a lot of it, I think, is rather than fully understanding the Jersey context, he just bulldozed through a programme."
However, he acknowledged that the government was more joined up than previously - and credited this for the island's covid response.
"Did the civil service need stirring up and changing and thinking and being encouraged to think the unthinkable? Of course it did, but now we’ve got a new CEO [Suzanne Wylie] and even though she’s only been here for a couple of months, I think she’s very good, she seems to understand Jersey and I think she will now build on – you could say there’s been a lot of chaos and now somebody can settle it down, get it to the right place."
Pictured: New Government CEO Suzanne Wylie.
Looking to his own future, Senator Gorst said that he felt there was more work to do as External Relations Minister, with changes to the corporate tax regime, the MONEYVAL assessment in 2023 on the horizon.
"Having said that, if an incoming Chief Minister says, 'Why don’t you consider this or this, and we’ll move things around a bit?', then I’ll be open to that as well."
Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.
Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.